South African Films

A Blues for Tiro South Africa 2007 48min Tswana with English subtitles
Steve Kwena Mokwena

Poetic and gritty, A Blues for Tiro pays tribute to black consciousness activist and inspirational leader Onkgopotse Abraham Ramothibi Tiro, who was murdered in 1974. Told through searing artistic imagery and moving interviews with family and friends, the life of an extraordinary man emerges. Born in 1945 in the small village of Dinokana, Tiro worked on the mines after finishing his matric. He then enrolled at Turfloop University, and became involved in militant student politics. His famous speech at the university in 1972 sparked a major student revolt, which many say inspired the 1976 youth uprising. One of the first black consciousness leaders to go into exile, Tiro was killed by a parcel bomb sent to him in Botswana. With Bonginkosi Ngwato aka Prophet supplying a lyrical narrative over a sinuous jazz-blues soundtrack, A Blues for Tiro provides a soulful cinematic slice of South African history.

Jhb Fri 20 / 6:45pm + Q&A Sat 28 / 6:15pm
CT Fri 4 / 6:30pm Tue 8 / 6:45pm

Bongani Umama South Africa 2007 49min Zulu with English subtitles
Liza Aziz

Bongani Umama takes an up-close and personal look at the pioneering construction programmes being run in KwaZulu-Natal, where women are taking a leading role in building and maintaining the province’s roads. Through the stories of two individuals, Doris Zethu Zikhakhane and Thatheni Dulcie Zondi, the documentary celebrates the remarkable contribution women are making as they are recruited and trained to take on demanding construction jobs. Doris supports five children by maintaining a length of road near her homestead, cleaning, digging and picking up stones. Thatheni is slowly establishing her own large-scale business as a contractor, building roads and bridges. Besides their demanding work, both women play hugely supportive roles within their families and communities. Described as a story about “real and resilient women”, the film moves from outdoor construction sites to inside the homes of Doris and Thatheni as they speak about the challenges that they face, and the pride that they feel in their achievements. The Vukuzakhe and Zibambele Programmes in KwaZulu-Natal currently employ over 42 000 women from mainly rural areas in their road construction programmes.

Jhb Wed 25 / 6:30pm
CT Sat 5 / 5:45pm

Breaking the Line South Africa 2007 45min
Tamarin Kaplan

Perhaps more than any other sport in South Africa, rugby has always been racialised. Even now, the game and who plays it remains a contentious issue. Despite the fact that there have been black rugby players in South Africa for nearly a hundred years, on a national and international level the sport has consistently favoured white sportsmen, from selection to sponsorships to superior training facilities. The segregation of players reached its height during the apartheid years. Playing with, or even against, mixed teams was inconceivable and rugby, as Kaplan investigates in this documentary, was ‘not just a game’. Against this backdrop the Eastern Cape-based Watson brothers, Valance and Cheeky, together with a handful of white friends, joined Kwaru (the black Kwazakele Rugby Union). Keen players all, the team was about playing, and hopefully winning, matches. As word of the non-racial team spread, there were alarmed reactions, to the extent that players received death threats and even the then Minister of Sport, Piet Koornhoff, got involved in trying to prevent a much-publicised game featuring the mixed team. Told through interviews with former Kwaru players as well as apartheid-era rugby stalwarts such as Morne du Plessis and Dr. Danie Craven, the film also features archival sports footage.

Jhb Tue 24 / 6:30pm + Q&A Thu 26 / 6:30pm Sat 28 / 3pm
CT Thu 10 / 6:30pm + Q&A Sat 12 / 5:15pm

Courting Justice South Africa 2008 70min
Jane Lipman

In South Africa, more than a decade after the end of Apartheid, the judiciary is still made up of a select elite group of people. In all aspects of a judge’s professional life they are exactly the same as all the other judges, but these judges share one distinguishing feature: they are women. For years prior to the fall of Apartheid South Africa’s courts were presided over by white men. Thirteen years later, with all the judges that have been appointed, only 18% of superior court seats are held by women and only one female judge holds a leadership position. As a small and effective part of one of the most advanced judicial systems in the world, Constitutional Court Judges Yvonne Mokgoro and Bess Nkabinde, Supreme Court of Appeal’s Mandisa Maya, Johannesburg High Court’s Mathilde Masipa and Cape High Court’s Deputy Judge President Traverso, Pat Goliath and Tandazwa Ndita, express their thoughts, feelings and beliefs around the judicial situation in South Africa, sub-conscious prejudice and the importance of women being in the judiciary. They also discuss their feelings of responsibility and loneliness, their inability to leave their work behind and the family time they sacrifice in their dedication to duty.
This film is an absorbing insight into the land’s top female judges and effectively reveals the real women behind the gowns and the gavels.

Jhb Sat 21 / 8:15pm + Q&A Mon 23 / 6:30pm Sat 28 / 8:45pm + Q&A
CT Fri 4 / 8:15pm + Q&A Thur 10 / 8:30pm Sun 13 / 2:30pm

The following 4 titles form part of The Healing Power of Nature Series

Biophilia describes the theory that humans have an instinct to conserve nature. However, more often than not, it is nature that conserves us. Why this is, is puzzled over in the Healing Power of Nature Series. Each film centres on the ways nature can heal us.

The series involves some of South Africa’s most talented cinematographers and directors. Created by Mafi sa Media in conjunction with African Renaissance Productions for SABC3, the series is overseen by executive producer Michael Raimondo.

Distant Cousins South Africa 2008 24min
Liza Key

An accident, at age 15, confined Kate Jagoe-Davies to a wheelchair. She and husband Bryan, a zoologist, live in the seaside town of Pringle Bay, close to beach and birdlife. In this healing environment Kate has made a remarkable connection, a breakthrough in the much publicised hostile relations between us, homo sapiens, and our distant cousin, papio ursinus, the Baboon. Initially beset by raids and left with a trail of destruction, one day in 2002 Kate had an enchanting experience that transformed her perception of the Baboons. This film is bound to change ours too.

Jhb Sat 21 / 5:45pm Fri 27 / 6:45pm
CT Mon 7 /6:45pm Sat 12 / 6:45pm

Plays with

Urban Cowboy South Africa 2008 24min English with subtitles
Liz Fish

Kendre Allies was a crook for a while. By his own admission he was the school bully and a member of the Americans gang. But when he left school in Grade 10 he had the luck to land a job as a stable hand at the Oude Molen riding school. Allies was healed and inspired by working with horses and today he owns the school, has 38 horses and is a beacon of hope in an urban environment which is harsh for both kids and horses alike. Without other sources of funding, or worthy volunteers, he is driven by an abiding love of horses and nature to giving back. All rather awe-inspiring.

Jhb Sat 21 / 5:45pm Fri 27 / 6:45pm
CT Mon 7 / 6:45pm Sat 12 / 6:45pm

Laxmi’s Blessing South Africa 2007 24min Hindi, Kannada with English subtitles
Karin Slater

In India, temple elephants are loved and respected. Laxmi’s compassionate eyes and
venerable wisdom is, in part, due to the considerable attention, training and devotion
from her mahout and his family. And he is everything to her. Together, they visit temples and attend spiritual festivals where she bestows blessings on the gatherings. Opening a window on this little known sector of Hindu life and worship, Laxmi’s Blessing is a beautifully shot, fascinating insight into an intimate and touching relationship that makes the ordinary seem sacred.

Jhb Fri 20 / 6:30pm + Q&A Sun 22 / 5pm + Q&A
CT Sat 5 / 5:30pm Wed 9 / 6:30pm

Plays with

The Shaman’s Apprentice South Africa 2007 24min Afrikaans with English subtitles
Catherine Winter

Engaging, somewhat eccentric cabaret artist Antoinette Pienaar dreamed that she would “one day learn about herbs from an old shepherd.” After years of performing and a mean bout of cerebral malaria, it comes true. She is apprentice to 92-year-old Johannes “Tikkie” Willemse, a herbalist in the remote Karoo. Hers is a tale of healing as she learns the secrets of the veldt from Willemse, a patient and wise mentor who guides her journey of the self, rhythms of the bush and the properties of plants with immense grace and warmth. Gentle, beautifully shot and underscored by a lilting Pienaar soundtrack.

Jhb Fri 20 / 6:30pm + Q&A Sun 22 / 5pm + Q&A
CT Sat 5 / 5:30pm Wed 9 / 6:30pm

New Deal? South Africa 1983 23min
Tony Bensusan

25 years ago the United Democratic Front was formed in opposition to the government’s constitutional reform proposals. A broad coalition of anti apartheid organisations came together at the Rocklands Civic Centre in Mitchell’s Plain on 20 August 1983 to launch the UDF and over 12,000 people attended. It was here that Rev. Allan Boesak, Helen Joseph, Frank Chikane, Francis Baard, Sheik Gabier and others delivered rousing speeches to a chorus of Amandlas! Apartheid state crackdowns necessitated that films be made anonymously, though they were still widely distributed throughout the townships. Bensusan’s crew included Brian Tilley, Lawrence Dworkin and Sipiwe Ralo, Popo Molefe (voice), an unknown guitarist and many others. It is the only footage of the event and the crowd scenes energetically relay the spirit of the moment.

Jhb Fri 20 / 6.30pm + Panel
CT Fri 11 / 8.30pm + Panel

Shamiela’s House South Africa 2008 48min English, Afrikaans with English subtitles
Robyn Rorke

A house is far more than four walls and a roof. To Shamiela it represents a home, stability and a safe haven for her family. A local housing scheme is launched and Shamiela applies for a house and succeeds. Growing up underprivileged and moving from house to house across the Cape Flats, Shamiela cannot believe that the wait is finally over. When she moves in, she finds that not only is the house in an extreme state of disrepair but also, she must now pay more than double the original agreed figure. Then rumours spread that the housing company is evicting people from their houses due to non-payment. Principled and dignified, Shamiela has only one option: to join a protest group and fight for her right to a decent roof over her head. This honest and intimate slice of Cape Town life takes on the perspective of the community as Shamiela and her troop navigate the corruption and mismanagement that has caused considerable heartache, insecurity and emotional trauma to some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens.

Jhb Sun 22 / 3pm Sat 28 / 4:45pm
CT Sun 6 / 5:15pm + Q&A Sat 12 / 2pm + Panel

Streets on Fire South Africa 2007 48min English, Xhosa with English subtitles
Quinton aka Bertram Fredericks

The 1980s in South Africa were one of the most turbulent decades in the country’s history. As the struggle against apartheid intensified, literally hundreds were detained and many protesters were killed. In Cape Town, the areas of KTC and Crossroads saw some of the worst violence as police forces manipulated the notorious “witdoeke” to terrorise whole communities. Seen through the eyes of four women who were politically involved at the time, Streets on Fire, made for the SABC2 ‘Petrol Bombs and Bad Hair Days’ series, vividly recalls this period of burning and street battles. The potent mix of archival footage and personal stories features the experiences of Mampe Ramotsamai, Maureen Thandi Mazibuko, Zukiswa Patricia Matolengwe and Nosipho Ethol Khali. Imprisoned and tortured, their homes destroyed and their families shattered, they continued to rally together with their comrades. And they survived. Now, 20 years later, they speak of the healing process they have been through and their wishes for the future.

Jhb Sun 22 / 2:45pm + Q&A
CT Fri 4 / 6:30pm + Q&A Sat 12 / 2:15pm

A Truly Wonderful Adventure South Africa 2007 47min English, Afrikaans with English subtitles
Lederle Bosch

“In a way, 1980 was Cape Town’s 1976.” In A Truly Wonderful Adventure (made for the SABC2 ‘Petrol Bombs and Bad Hair Days’ series) Bosch, ignited by the memory of the death of 11-year-old Bernard Fortuin at the hands of the police forces, rounds up veterans of the remarkable year when Western Cape students united across school yards to protest against the apartheid system and its gutter education. Then Pacman was the hot new game, Stevie Wonder was on the radio, and Star Wars played at the bioscope. Simultaneously, kids from Spes Bona High, Crystal High, Livingstone High, Fezeka High and other schools were furiously involved in student politics, forming the famous Committee of 81 and taking the struggle on to the streets. There were casualties – like innocent Bernard Fortuin – and survivors, like Zackie Achmat, Tyrone Seale, printer Allie Parker and many more, who braved detention and beatings and came back to carry on. Told through interviews with past students, Fortuin’s remaining family, and archival footage, the film vividly captures a seminal moment in South Africa’s history, offset by a haunting soundtrack by Jonathan de Vries.

Jhb Mon 23 / 6:45pm
CT Sat 5 / 3:30pm + Q&A Sun 13 / 2:45pm

Uit my Kop uit South Africa 2007 56 min Afrikaans with English subtitles
Jeanette Jegger

Lienkie tells her teacher she wants to be a policewoman, Elfansou wants to be a cowboy and Danylisha dreams of being a doctor. But growing up poor in Nieu Bethesda, in the shadow of the Sneeuberg Mountains, means growing up with a lot of hardship. Unemployment, alcohol abuse and the spread of HIV/AIDS further adds to the challenges that surround the children in this village. But with the support of a dedicated teacher, and the encouragement of their families, who see education as a way to get ahead, the three kids and their friends face life with a positive attitude. “If you give them love, they can go far,” says their teacher, and she tries her best. Uit my Kop uit is a gentle chronicle tracing a year in Nieu Bethesda – not the tourist part, where visitors admire the quaint Owl House and other attractions, but the section where poverty is an all-pervasive reality. Essentially a tale of women and children, it follows the rhythms of the village from church gatherings to school classes, documenting a way of life that is tough, but is also celebrated through small victories, like getting a good school report.

Jhb Tue 24 / 8:30pm 27 Fri / 8pm
CT Sat 5 / 8pm + Q&A Wed 9 / 6:45pm

You Chuse
South Africa 2008 50min
Rehad Desai, Anita Khanna

How does the global fight over who owns content, copyright and programmes perpetuate the divide between developed nations and developing ones? This fun, yet insightful documentary navigates global and local initiatives that keep information in the public domain. Information technology is increasingly taken for granted and we use it as a tool to facilitate our everyday existence and generally pay the price that the software and content giants demand without asking. In this so-called‘Information Age’, knowledge has become a commodity. Does this conflict with the basic human right of freedom of access to knowledge? How does this affect us in South Africa where knowledge is the one area where developing countries can realise their human potential? It’s now official:
to compete in the global economy and become producers and not merely consumers of knowledge, the most urgent needs of all South Africans are now water, electricity and… broadband! Information warriors are fighting for all our rights to create, recreate, collaborate and innovate. They are taking on the big corporations. Navigating the minefield of copyright, open source and content creation, this fast-paced local documentary uses snappy graphics, entertaining clips and in-depth interviews with global warriors such as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Pirate Bay’s bad boys and local players to broaden our cyber horizons.

Jhb Wed 25 / 8:30pm + Q&A Fri 27 / 6:30pm Sun 29 / 3pm+ Q&A
CT Mon 7 / 8:30pm + Q&A Fri 11 / 6:30pm

Zulu Surf Riders
South Africa 2007 50min Zulu with English subtitles
André Cronje, Carlos Francisco

On the KwaZulu-Natal coast surfers are no longer the global stereotyped blonde, sun-bleached beach bum, but guys who are just as stoked to catch the perfect wave, like twins Cyril and Meshack Mqadi, from semirural Umzumbe, who have taken to the sport like – well, ducks to water. Surfing in South Africa has been the preserve of white boys for the usual reasons – access to beaches, and money to buy boards, among others.
Cyril and Meshack are breaking that mould, ripping into breaks with style, life-saving and judging surf competitions. Even better – they’re training up the next generation of Zulu wave riders. Beautifully shot both in and out of the water, this is a surf movie with a diff erence, blending cool cutbacks with social commentary. The soundtrack is pretty groovy, too.

Jhb Mon 23 / 8:15pm + Q&A Fri 27 / 7pm Sun 29 / 2:30pm
CT Sun 6 / 8pm + Q&A Fri 11 / 6:30pm Sun 13 / 4:30pm

plays with

South Africa 2007 4min
Rob Nicholls

Sashaying across a stark urban landscape, a man dips, sways, dances with unusual partners. Perhaps 40 pigeons match his pace, riding on his shoulders, alighting on his
head, balancing on his hands.

Jhb Mon 23 / 8:15pm + Q&A Fri 27 / 7pm Sun 29 / 2:30pm
CT Sun 6 / 8pm + Q&A Fri 11 / 6:30pm Sun 13 / 4:30pm

    2008 Festival Dates

19–29 June 2008

Cape Town
3–13 July 2008
Booking Details

    South African International
    Documentary Festival

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    2008 Festival Dates

19–29 June 2008

Cape Town
3–13 July 2008
Booking Details